A Guide to Nurse Salaries

Salaries - by nursing type, by location - Blog (1)Despite what you might think, salaries vary widely within the field of nursing. Beyond the obvious difference in salaries among CNAs and RNs, there are many other factors that come into play when looking at nursing salaries.

If you’re wondering why one of your nurse friends or colleagues are making a different salary than you, we’ve gathered some information to help you better understand. Not all nurse salaries are equal.

What Dictates Nurse Salaries

Just like any other career, there are some basic factors that come into play when determining salary for employees. Pay Scale lists a few factors employers consider when determining salary: the organization’s/company’s reputation, supply and demand of talent, experience and education of the employee, employee performance and cost of living.1 A few other factors that may affect salary could be region, time with a company and skill level.

Because those factors are not equal among all nurses, salaries are not equal among all nurses. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of factors that determine salary.

Average Nurse Salaries by Degree

One of the determining factors for nurse salaries is type of degree. Some nurses are LPNs (licensed practical nurses) and others are RNs (registered nurses).

“The median national annual salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is $42,490,” according to All Nursing Schools.  “The median annual salary for registered nurses in $66,640.”2

Remember that these numbers are averages, and many of the factors we listed earlier still have an effect on nurse salaries.

Beyond LPNs and RNs are advanced practicing nurses, who normally have higher salaries due to their higher level of education.

Nurse Salaries Among Specialities

Aside from degree type, nurse salaries can also vary by specialty. A reason for this is that there is a higher demand for nurses in certain specialties over other, more common specialties.

Nurse.org provides a list of the highest paying nursing jobs:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • General Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • Pain Management Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Informatics Nurse
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nursing Administrator3

Nurse Salaries By Region

If you’re looking to move to a state that has higher paid nurses, this list may help you out. RN to BSN Online Programs lists the top ten highest paying states for registered nurses:

  • California: $98,400 per year
  • Hawaii: $88,230 per year
  • Massachusetts $85,770 per year
  • Alaska: $85,740 per year
  • Oregon: $82,940 per year
  • Nevada: $71,450 per year
  • Washington: $78,540 per year
  • New Jersey: $78,330 per year
  • New York: $77,110 per year
  • Connecticut: $76,370 per year4

Because there are many determining factors for salary, if you’re looking to raise your salary you have to consider multiple things. Moving to a different state, continuing your education or changing specialties may be ways you can raise your salary as a nurse!

What have you found to be the biggest indicator of salary? Tell us in the comments below!


  1. http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2015/05/salary-factors-heres-how-your-employer-decides-how-much-you-get-paid
  2. http://www.allnursingschools.com/nursing-careers/article/nursing-salaries/
  3. http://nurse.org/articles/75/15-highest-paying-nursing-careers/
  4. http://www.rntobsnonlineprogram.com/nursing-salaries-for-different-types-of-nurses/